Berger Questions

September 20, 2006

1. In Berger’s essay, “History” stands for an idolization of the past, where the actual events and people are immortalized by those who continue to study it. It seems that “history” is only a twisted perception of what happened years or centuries before as told from a certain point of view. Within paintings, Berger uses “history” as something that is “mystified” in that it is considered something unreachable for understanding. Because of the inability to imagine history, Berger says that this prevents people from truly seeing a painting because one cannot see the events and surroundings which shaped its creation. As one cannot perceive the “why” and “what” of the painting, then people read far too much into its meaning, causing the painting to be figuratively lost from sight alltogether.

In Hals’ painting, he draws that when critiquing the painting, art historians critique the painting itself rather than taking into account the history surrounding it, instead focusing more on things like color and contrast. In writting about the painting, Berger has attempted to illustrate the gap between the painting as it is and how people experience the painting now in an effort to try and “redescover” the painting. By “situating” us in history, he is attempting to force the reader into experiencing the painting within its own context so that we readers can really experience and truly experience the painting.

2. Berger’s account of the painting could be seen as an attempt to demystify the painting and try to replace it in the historical, political, and societal of the time that it was made in order to try and experience it as it was “meant” to be experienced as. No I don’t think that he is “really” seeing, and I think that he recognizes this. I believe that he realizes that it is very difficult, maybe impossible to truly “see” the painting because one cannot fully perceive the past. I think that Berger is attemping to “really” see it thus, he becomes as close to seeing it as he can. I think that he knows that he has his own bias and perspective on what the painting should be and what he should see- thus, his sight is affected. He knows the history and he knows his bias, thus he believes that he is mostly seeing the painting.


1. Mr. Percy seems to progress from a more general view into a more specific one. It’s like he’s attempting to apply his ideas to more specific examples rather than generalized views.

2. The loss that Mr. Percy has such concern for is the loss of the ability to have a “true” experience in order to have an experience that is considered to be “right” and “acceptable” to society. The interests that are represented here are interests to the present and to the person or people who are having the experience. Thus the interests are to society as a whole.

After reading this essay and attempting to decode it (yes, it was like IB come back again) piece by piece, i was left with one main question: and we are supposed to fix this how? It felt like the whole essay was telling us we were helpless creatures and that we were all slaves to something uncontrolable. Mr. Percy gave example after example and all that I could draw from it was that it was impossible to escape the hole that humanity has dug itself into. After reading this, my only question was really “How?”. How do we fix this? How do we truly enjoy an experience? How do we get out of this rather cynical view of life?

At first I struggled with Mr. Percy’s attempt to turn his ideas into a math problem, because it seemed out of place; but then I just accepted the fact that it was there and meant to convey his point and I moved on. Sometimes I had trouble following the author’s train of thought, so I would have to reread a passage a second time. There were times, towards the end of the essay, when I had trouble identifying with what Mr. Percy was trying to say, as if I couldn’t quite agree with it or believe it.

We can relate this essay to our discussion of cliche because Mr. Percy is saying that life is a cliche in that experiences are never really unique, but are instead clouded by our preconceived notions and from the perspectives of other people.

I think that Mr. Percy makes an interesting, if not verbose, argument that people aren’t really experiencing life for themselves but are living off of expectations and stereotypes.

September 4, 2006

san josesan jose This picture is an illustration of how a liberal arts education provides a student with a global perspective and an understanding that within the world there are different cultures, belief systems, and standards of living. With it comes an understanding that the world is vast and that it is filled with numerous and completely different sights to see, more than can be seen in a lifetime. With this global understanding, the liberal arts education hopes to provide students with the curiosity and desire to learn more about the world all the time. This picture shows how other places in the world can be both very similar and very different at the same time. Through understanding this fact, it promotes an atmosphere of tolerant thought rather than of judgemental thought.

Picture 3

September 4, 2006

Study BreakThis picture shows the actuality of an undergraduate experience- the studying. While global awareness, learning about other people, cultures, and subjects are all a part of going to school, they all come from countless hours of studying. This picture shows the undergraduate experience in a more literal manner, rather than in a more metaphorical manner like in the first two photographs. Despite how we talk about what a liberal arts education will bring in the future, we sometimes overlook the present- the time slaving over books in order to learn the things that we will need to know in the future. Studying is the backbone of a liberal arts education, and is the part most students wish would go away, or not exist.

Picture 2

September 3, 2006

017_15.JPG017_15.JPGThis picture is a good illustration of the diversity of educational areas offered by a liberal arts college. These stone balls, innocuous-looking at first, are actually some of the greatest mysteries of modern time. Historically, these balls are a mystery, as nothing is known about the culture that created them, why they were created, why they are in this specific formation, or how they were created. Historians around the globe have spent many years studying the stones and attempting to find archaeological remnants of the culture that created them. Historians have also spent many years searching for more stones and attempting to recreate how they once were. Scientists have also spent a lot of time studying these stones, attempting to figure out their age using the volcanic rocks themselves. Engineers have also studied these stones, and wondered how they were created and how a primitive society could create stones that are several feet tall, weigh several tons, and are about 98% perfectly round. This collection of stones brings together many different fields of study, like how a liberal arts education forces students to study within many different areas, rather than in any single one. I chose this picture because it shows the the many areas of study available at the university can connect and relate to each other in the real world, and how everything that one learns at school as the possibility to apply later in life.

Picture 1

September 3, 2006

021_19.JPG021_19.JPGThis photograph illustrates how an undergraduate liberal arts education encourages students to have an understanding of other people, and how it prepares a student for whatever life may throw at them. This photograph shows different groups of people from different parts of the Western Hemisphere coming together to learn about the Tropical Cloud Forest. It also shows two exchange students visiting a foreign country on their own to learn about a somewhat different culture: how they live, what the country is like, and to practice another language. The students in this photograph are learning about many different things at the same time, including how to survive without one’s parents, and how to immerse oneself in a foreign culture with only a limited understanding of the language. These skills learned as an exchange student teach students valuable lessons on how to survive in life after college, and how to live with strangers for an extended period of time, like while in college. The people in this picture are also in the middle of a natural reserve, a place where people go to learn about science and the environment. As this picture is being taken, the subjects are headed to a lecture to learn about the flora and fauna from a researching biologist, illustrating the educational aspects of an undergraduate education.

I chose this picture because it shows many aspects of a liberal arts education: learning to coexist with other people, being in a foreign environment, learning about oneself, learning things that will be useful in life, and, finally, learning about science and the world around us.